A serendipitous click online landed me on the website of Julie Morgenstern Enterprises. She’s a productivity guru and her team “helps individuals, groups, organizations and teams tame chaos so they can make their unique contribution.”
It’s not unlike the goal of tidying and decluttering your home and living spaces with the KonMari Method to “spark joy” and support the optimal lifestyle you envision.
I clicked further and discovered posts about “time clutter” and “decluttering time.”
Now we’re on to something, I thought, as I made a pot of my favorite tea and settled in to learn more —spending time in the evening exactly as I wanted, and with an unburdened mind because the house was clean, neat, tidy and clutter free.
Morgenstern begins “Decluttering Time” like this:
The word clutter often evokes a powerful image: stacks of newspapers, magazines, old mail, brochures, and leaflets piled high and littered about every surface; items shoved haphazardly into any available nook, crany, or crevice; closets overflowing with shirts and sweaters you haven’t worn in years; chaos, disorder, and mess as far as the eye can see.
Goosebumps, I have to tell you.
And then she swings the topic to her area of focus: “But what about the invisible clutter, the intangible clutter? It’s something we rarely talk about: time clutter. But think about it; your schedule, like your closet, is a container, a storage unit with a definite capacity.”
In another post, “Understanding the Roots of Time Clutter,” Morgenstern describes the dilemma of a bank vice president who was effective and efficient at work but “overburdened with tidying, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other chores from the moment she walked in the door until the moment she went to sleep … .”
The woman was “desperate to unburden her schedule … but couldn’t see how.”
Time clutter is a serious problem—and it’s also the other side of the coin when it comes to the household and lifestyle clutter we deal with and dispatch in a KonMari decluttering journey.
Clutter, after all, is really a time problem.
One of my favorite tips for staying tidy once you’ve decluttered illustrates the phenomenon in a way we can all relate to.
Take care of the mail when you bring it into the house each day; pay the bills, dispose of or recycle the junk, answer cards or correspondence, and file any documents, statements, or policies that need to be kept.
This doesn’t just avoid break-outs of new clutter but also brings the peace of mind that comes from knowing things have been handled.
You can see how time comes into the tidyness equation.
That modest effort with the daily mail brings liberation, but letting the mail pile up over time welcomes the perception (not incorrect) that tackling it will be too time-consuming—and that becomes a self-defeating cycle as the clutter problem grows exponentially. (A good example is most folks’ email inboxes … but digital clutter is a topic for another day.)
The process-your-mail paradigm applies across your home and your lifestyle; to everything that ends up in closets, drawers, cupboards, attics, basements because you “didn’t have the time” to practice what I’ll call in-the-moment KonMari and decide if whatever you hold in your hands is vital and worthy of keeping (in its proper place) or not essential to your lifestyle joy and should be let go (in the most appropriate and expeditious way.)
Need an example? Here’s one: Guests at your Fourth of July picnic or other summer barbecue are gracious enough to bring a few bottles of nice wine. Thinking it adds something to the gesture, they package the wine in those silly bottle puppets. It’s happened before and your default is to stuff them in a drawer with the others, none of which will ever be summoned for another mission.
The party’s on and you’ll deal with it later, right?
Yes … and no. It would be rude to take them straight to the Goodwill donation pile in the garage, but that pile has to be assembled and removed at least weekly at an appointed donation time or it just becomes another manifestation of clutter.
Organizing “guru” Peter Walsh shared this bit of wisdom with the hosts of the Little Home Organised podcast in Australia:
“‘Later’ is the best friend of clutter.”
In the end, the difference between enjoying the freedom of a clutter-free life or being shackled by the many discontents of clutter is about taking the time necessary to improve your existing situation and then devoting the minimal time and effort necessary each day to keep your home and lifestyle clutter free.